Sunday, 18 June 2017

RIP: Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto/Babylon 5)

B5 vir.jpg
Photo: By Source,

I was sad to hear that Stephen Furst who played Vir Cotto in the superb Babylon 5 series died from a diabetes related illness. He was just 63.

His role as the centauri Ambassador was central to the plot throughout the five year story-line and eventually Vir became Emperor.

Although Babylon 5 developed a wide following on TV that so many of us became part of, the series did not develop much of a spin-off in the comics world with just the one short lived title from DC Comics.

 

Stephen Furst (Born Feuerstein) battled with obseity and diabetes all his life and became an activists for various health causes including the American Diabetes Association.

Rest in Peace.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

2000AD #200 (1981)



The recent publication of 2000 AD's 2000th issue and the subsequent fortieth anniversary edition has renewed my interest in this comic which was previously restricted to Judge Dredd reprints. I picked up a copy of 2000AD #200 and a few issues around that number to get a flavour of what the comic was like way back then.

Of particular interest was what turned out to be the origin story of Johnny Alpha, the Strontium Dog. Told over several issues with a gap ( I haven't reached the conclusion yet) this is useful for those of us not familiar with Strontium Dogs world. The target of Johnny Alphas bounty hunting turns out to be none other than Nelson B Kreelman, former fascist dictator of the UK and Johnny's father!

Next up was The Mean Arena, one of those semi-sporting violent game strips so popular at the time but not my cup of tea so I've been skipping this whenever it appeared.

Return to Armageddon proved to be a quite brutal strip. An immortal man who could not die being tormented in a freak circus by punters trying to kill him. This was for kids? Good story as it went on though this was part 16 or something like that. Worth  persevering with over subsequent issues.

Then theres' Judge Dredd vs Pirates. Well what else could you ask for? Meanwhile Tharg has a party and part 23 of The Meltdown Man concludes the weekly edition. Think Kamandi and you'll get the drift. Thumbs up on this one.

There's more of the same in the zarjaz 4th Birthday issue! Includes the first part of The Day They Banned 2000AD. Fear not Earthings the villains of this plot did not get their way!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

RIP: Adam West 1928 to 2017


Photo: by Alan Light

Adam West the actor who played the Batman in the camp TV series in the sixties has passed away aged 88 after a battle with cancer his family announced today. The Batman TV show which ran for 120 episodes over 3 seasons has been continuously repeated around the world to this day making Adam a household name, recognisable to both young and old.



The Batman show attracted all the great talent of the day from Vincent Price and Eartha Kitt to George Sanders and Milton Berle.

Mr West will be remembered as a good sport who never took himself too seriously and was able to appear in modern TV shows such as the Big Bang Theory and Family Guy.

He will be missed by not just his family but his legions of fans around the world

Friday, 9 June 2017

King Conan #1 (Marvel/1980)



King Conan #1 (Marvel Comics)

Roy Thomas (w) & John Buscema (a)

Conan the Barbarian was once one of Marvel comics hottest properties, albeit on lease from the estate of Robert E Howard the characters creator. In 1980 Conan already had a successful four-colour comic and was the star of the most successful black & white comic magazine ever published Savage Sword of Conan. It was hardly surprising that Marvel added a third, albeit quarterly title to the roster.

Launched with a cover date of March 1980, King Conan was a "giant-sized" all new comic costing 75 cents, the price of an Annual way back then. This featured Conan as the King of Aquilonia married to his queen Zenobia and had a son, Conn some twelve summers of age.

This first adventure sees Conn lost in the woods and captured by the hag-witch of Hyperborea and used as bait to entrap Conan before a cabal of mages including  the dreaded Thoth-Amon.

Under-rated by his enemies (except for Thoth) the sorcerers get their comeuppance as you would expect.

This series lasted 19 issues before having the title changed to Conan the King (no idea why) and was published for a further 36 editions until 1989.

 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Creepy #101 (Warren/1978)



Jaws. ....

Even mere mention of the word spelled fear to those of us who lived through the late seventies. Yes we all knew it was a giant plastic shark but along with the terrifying theme music it was enough for our girlfriends to hang on to us for dear life...or was it the other way round?

And so inevitably the genre made it's way through comedy and eventually to comics. Warren produced this special edition of water-themed horror to both entertain and horrify.

There are six stories in this issue, the first two of which run from one into the other and feature a young man called Brock who hangs on to his wife's heart..literally.

The third feature A Boy and his Thing is a reprint and I have the issue where this first appeared though for the life of me can't remember which one! This story has a monster the size of which beggars belief. Would you want one as a pet?

Water Babies comes up next as the issues colour feature and is a story of family, slavery and man's injustice to those around him. May even bring a tear to your eye. The monster is sometimes just very human indeed.

The Seven Sisters of the Sea sees revenge doled out to pirates and one in particular. It's just a story....right?

And to end there is a time travelling adventure, Alternate Paths that sees warnings ignored, egos to the fore and the end of things as they were. Anyone mention Atlantis?

Oh and just for fun here's the trailer for that film...... Jaws.

Don't go into the water!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Battle Holiday Special 1988



One of the "new wave" of British comics Battle which ran from 1975 to 1988 produced seventeen editions of the inevitable and much loved "Holiday or Summer" specials that helped pass the time during the long summer holidays. Well not so long for oldies like me who got just a couple of weeks by the eighties due to a little thing known as work.....

Nevertheless these editions which contain a mixture of new and reprinted material are still a great read and worth picking up when you can find a copy. Not cheap, but worth every penny. The 1988 Holiday Special is also printed on a higher grade of paper so is in better condition than equivalent "newsprint" specials.

 

Battle had itself ceased publication in January of that year being subsumed or merged with Eagle, but publishers kept the title alive for specials and Annuals for a little longer the last one hitting the stands in 1991.

All the favourites are inside. Johnny Red, the Hurricane pilot on the Eastern Front in no less than two adventures. There's Charlie's War, Rat Pack and Storm Force plus a few extras. and features.

A fondly remembered comic with great art and stories.

 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (DVD)

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (Video 2017) DVD Release Date

The latest of DC's animated movies hit the stores last week and I finally got around to watching it last night though maybe I should have saved it to see while May & Corbyn slug it out on TV for an hour and a half (Zzzz). Still this movie won't send you to sleep even if you know the plot from the comic book all those years back....

The Teen Titan are two teams in modern comics, the originals are just known as the Titans and are a bit of an anomaly in the modern DC universe. Wally's back and people don't remember him except of course the love that unites the Titans gives him hope.

This film creates it's own continuity and Starfire leads the team which contains not just Nightwing and Batmans son Damian but also Raven, the new Blue Beetle, Beast Boy and ....Terra?

The battle against Brother Blood and Deathstroke begins.

Who is the traitor?

Worth watching. Pick up your copy now and look out for the next movie, Vixen which should be in the shops soon.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Tower of Shadows #6 (Marvel/1970)



Tower of Shadows #6 (Marvel)

Various (w) & (a)

From 1970 hails an edition of Mighty Marvels horror/mystery title Tower of Shadows. I used to pick this up from the newsagents back in the day. Always been a fan of the genre and this issue contains three gems from Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Steve Skeates and Gene Colan.

Kicking off with Man in the Rat-Hole by Lee & Ditko from 1960 that tells the tale of a shrinking spy. Usual dramatic ending with a dilemma that cannot be resolved...or can it? What would you do!!

Next up is The Ghost-Beast with both story & art by Wally Wood. Beowulf comes to conquer and faces a mythical beast that causes madness in those that see it. Only when he thinks he's killed it does the story begin...and how Beowulf saves the day will horrify & amuse in equal measure.

Last up is The Scream Beyond by Skeates & Colan.  A fast moving story of an ugly little man whose special effect recordings of accidents are caused by the real thing. But where is that sound coming from....? No I'm not giving away the ending. Pick up a copy if you come across one.

Tower of Shadows ran for 9 issues before having its title changed for no apparent reason to Creatures on the Loose.

 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Battle-Action (Nov/1977)



By the late seventies most of the comics I knew as a kid had gone. Lion had been merged with Valiant as had Smash, last of the "Power" range of comics along with TV21. In turn Valiant had been absorbed by newcomer Battle. Such was the way with British comics. Mergers were a way of bringing readers from a flagging title to another comic which featured "the best" of both.

A "new wave" of comics were hitting the stands as Fleetway/IPC tried to compete with Marvel UK in a changing world. Battle and Action were two such comics.

Action was a controversial title that had to be suspended" after just 36 issues due to its controversial content. Questions were even raised in Parliament. When it returned the stories were toned down and it was never the same again and lasted just under a year with 50 further editions before it was merged with Battle.

Action requires an post all of it's own one of these days....

Battle was a hard-hitting war comic which featured such oddities as Johnny Red, the tale of a pilot wrongly dismissed from the RAF who found himself fighting on the Eastern Front with a Hurricane fighter as part of the Soviet Air Force.

  

The combined edition contained what the "paper" called the "big seven". Spinball Wars, Dredger, Hellman, Major Eazy, The Sarge and of course Johnny Red.

I wasn't able to pick up the first merged issue so have started the run with the second issue and have to say it's a good comic updating the "boys comic" genre to a modern age.

Battle went on to last 664 issues before being absorbed by the second volume of the Eagle in 1988.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1982



Come the end of the school year we'd (amongst other things) all be looking forward to the summer special of our favourite comic and back in the day there were lots to choose from There were even one's for the girls!

Not to be left out 2000AD joined the fray with their "Sci-Fi" specials which were a mixture of new stories and reprints with a few features to keep us occupied for a while. This one issued in 1982 had a whopping 64 pages featuring of course Judge Dredd and other favourites such as Mach 1 (which went on to appear in Eagle (Vol 2), Invasion, Black Hawk (from Tornado), Rogue Trooper and Ace Trucking Co amongst others.

This edition also contains reprints of stories from the Daily Star which I'd never seen before.

The Sci Fi Special went on hiatus for  a while there being 19 issues up until 1996 but was revived in 2014 and will hopefully be back on our newsstands this year given the success of their 2000th and 40th Anniversary editions!

 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Savage Sword of Conan #225



I can't remember the last time I went to a comic shop other than 30th Century Comics in Putney but couldn't resist popping into Orbital Comics when I passed by whilst in Central London. I thought I'd have a look. Be rude not to I thought.

Glad I did as it turns out because I was able to pick up some backs issues of Savage Sword of Conan that I hadn't seen until now. These were editions close to the end of of this long lived titles run which I had been looking out for.

For some reason this issue was described as a "special anniversary edition", not entirely sure why, maybe it just had the number 25 in it probably. This was the nineties and comic publishing went somewhat awry during this period driving many long standing readers (including myself) away from the hobby.

The stories contained within were quite good, though nothing particularly special. Swords of Sukmet was a prequel to Red Nails featuring Valeria and a load of seemingly invulnerable cannibals. plus as a bonus Valeria of the Red Brotherhood which tells the origin tale of our heroine.

Worth picking up, but slightly spoilt by the nineties style pinup pages in between the stories. The early Image influence has a lot to answer for......

I noticed there was somewhat of a glut of Conan books, no less than four being published at the time. Bit of an overkill which perhaps weakened the franchise just that little bit to much and led to the demise of what was the longest running black & white comic magazine ever published. Pity. I love the format.

 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

World Reader #1 (Aftershock)



World Reader #1 (Aftershock)

Jeff Loveness (w) Juan Doe (a)

Aftershock are a new entrant to the comics field and are bringing out a range of titles including the excellent Animosity set in a world where all the animals develop intelligence. It's worth keeping an eye out for their other publications as this one World Reader is also worth picking up.

This review is a wee bit late as my copy arrived in a damaged shipment and had to be (along with a number of other titles) be replaced. No matter as it was worth the wait and issue #2 arrived at the same time.

This is the story of a spaceship discovering that mankind was once not alone, but every civilisation they come across is no more. Something is killing life and the resident psychic is not taken seriously by the captain so Sarah takes matters into her own hands. Talking to ghosts can be dangerous.

Who is the faded man? Will Earth face the same fate? And why?

Issues #1 & #2 are on sale now.

 









Saturday, 20 May 2017

2000AD and Tornado #129 (1979)



Whenever the words "great news inside" or a banner that says "together at last" appeared on the cover of comics it meant there was a merger and the latter named title had failed so the publishers were attempting to bring those readers to a another comic..

Thus we saw 2000AD absorb the short lived Tornado comic, which was actually a good comic but just didn't make the grade to survive.

 

2000AD was still a young title back in 1979 though Judge Dredd was already beginning to pick up a cult following. The comic had already merged with Starlord and was the lead title despite on that occasion being the lesser selling title.

 

The merger brought a strong lineup to 2000AD: Judge Dredd, Black Hawk, The Mind of Wolfie Smith and Disaster 1990. The other strip, ABC Warriors has it's fans but I'm not one of them. Oh and there was also Captain Kelp, a one page humour strip.

This was the last merger that 2000AD had despite other comics frantically swallowing each other up until this comic was the sole survivor.

2000AD and Tornado ran from prog 129 to 177.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Red Sonja: The Road to Oblivion (One Shot)


Red Sonja: The Long Road to Oblivion #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Erik Burnham (w) Tom Mandrake (a)

The new Red Sonja series is set in the modern world which gives her story a twist. I doubt if she'll stay here forever but for the time being it's great fun. So what exactly led to our flame haired heroine being trapped in the twenty-first century. And what other mysteries await Sonja?

This extra length one-shot from Dynamite tells the tale. Here's a preview.

And if you ask me that fella in the bar was lucky she only cut off his nose....





Monday, 15 May 2017

Judge Dredd Annual 1982



One of Britain's most enduring comic book characters is Judge Dredd a hard-line cop borderline fascist who lays down the law in Mega-City One. Adventure which mixes violence, satire and science fiction in the far future.

You really wouldn't want to live there.

However Dredd and the comic he appears in has caught the imagination of thousands of fans both in the UK and abroad for the past 40 years. 2000AD is the last British weekly adventure comic.

And of course in the past there were the Annuals of which this was the second (of 11) which features stories of Dredd and his supporting cast which then included Walter the Robot and Max Normal.

There's even a reprint of Dredd's first story from 2000AD #2!